On the back of her first single of 2021 ‘Joy’, which was supported by The Independent, Wonderland, Earmilk and Vacancy Magazine, among others, Canadian Nigerian singer, songwriter, and producer FALANA is set to springboard into her long-anticipated sophomore EP titled Rising. Arriving on October 15 via AWAL, the Rising EP is themed around women’s empowerment, according to Falana. It’s a journey of the different emotions and stories that we all experience – stories of self-love, personal struggle, romance, black girl joy, and chasing your dreams – told from a woman’s perspective, and told through song and music. She sat down with Complex to discuss the new EP and more.
Through her own lens of living and experiencing different cultures around the world, from Nigeria, Canada and the UK, to Cuba, Denmark and America, Falana has crafted a record with a unique perspective and a sound that is truly global. The producers and contributors that she has collaborated with to bring the Rising EP to life also reflect this global story, including KingBjmn (Future, DJ Snake, Kranium) and Tyler Richards, both from the US, Canadian beatsmith Lord Quest (SchoolBoyQ, Raekwon, Bosco), Jamaican native Dale Virgo (Rihanna, Drake), British producer Tboy (Burna Boy, Serani), and Davey O (Adekunle Gold) from Nigeria.
The Rising EP, which is the long-awaited follow-up to her self-produced 2019 EP Chapter One that was described by The New Yorker as “changing the sound of global pop”, is the result of collaborations that started before the global pandemic – a process that has seen Falana recording in Jamaica, England, Canada, USA, Portugal, Ghana and Nigeria. The process has been one of healing and self-discovery; each trip unveiling a new layer that allowed her to write from a different perspective. “I feel that I’m in my spirit position to be able to speak to different people, because I’ve experienced so many different places”, she says about the 7-track Rising project.
With the sounds of her Rising EP spreading their tentacles across the genres that have influenced her own journey – from soul and pop to R&B and afrobeat – Falana has been able to hit the balance she’s been searching for her whole life, with the Canadian Nigerian native observing, “It’s funny how things fall together slowly and then all at once. I feel like I’ve really found my voice. And I think once an artist finds their voice, they become unstoppable”. With more creative confidence than ever before, Falana has the foundation with which to dig deeper and give more of herself to listeners. “I am really excited about the artist I am becoming, and I never want to stop evolving”, she says.
Born and raised in the Ontario suburb of Brampton, Falana’s upbringing was soundtracked by a diverse music selection that has shaped her penchant for genre-defiance. As soon as she was able to, she moved to Toronto to pursue music, and after a year of balancing day jobs and relentless gigging at night, Falana departed once again to Lagos in Nigeria. As she says, “In Lagos, everything started to make sense in my songwriting, even down to how I express myself with style and my hair”, and she began to use her sense of style as an extension of her artistry more than ever before. Having recently moved to London where she has begun writing for her debut album, she believes she has come full circle and completed her musical journey.
Hailed as “Nigeria’s coolest front row star” by Vogue, Falana stands out not only with her music, but also with stylistic expressions, and is known for her distinctive braid pom-poms, which have fans tagging her in fan art and pictures of their own hair, to which she says, “I feel like it’s become this signature for me that’s so powerful now”. Falana knows the importance of disrupting the often-one-dimensional view of women that we’re constantly shown by our newsfeeds. Falana says, “I think one of my main motivators is just being a different reference point – for African women, and women in general. I’m sexy, but I’m not selling sex. I’m different, but I’m still beautiful. I’m strong, but I’m soft. I care about how I am presented because what you see is what you know”.
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